Letter-Sound Maneuvering (LSM)
For many years, I was a reading therapist. I have helped hundreds of struggling elementary school children improve their decoding skills several grade levels in just weeks. I used exercises that made children hear the different sounds of a word, in the order they occur, sometimes called, "Phonemic Awareness." That term just means, being aware of each sound of a word and where that sound happens.
If I were asked to help a struggling child, but I could choose only one of the many drills I used before, without question that would be a drill I call, "Letter-Sound Maneuvering" or (LSM). This drill, by itself, teaches phonemic awareness and the best thing is, it does it implicitly.
Cut out letter: a c t b e f
have all letter available at top and ask child, "spell cat." Child should bring c a t down to make the word. If not, you do it.
Ask child to say each sound /k/ /a/ /t/ and then ask her to blend them into the word.
Ask child, "If this is cat, change it to bat. When you say the word, run your finger under the letters at the same time.
Child makes the change. Help if you need to.
Ask child to say sounds and blend again.
Ask child, "If this is bat, change it to bet."
and so on an so forth.
You can create nonsense words also, like feb or fab. In fact, when there is no meaning, the child can concentrate on the sounds completely.
Create your own letter groups like u i t p s m Advice: group should contain only two vowels. Make sure the vowels are short.
Enjoy and watch the miracles. Children will be on their way to being master word attackers.
This drill teaches the direct relation between a sound and the letter that represents it. There is not need for letter names. Don't use them. You don't need them.
This drill, because children are moving sounds in and out of words, trains the child's eyes to see the details of the word, enabling them to then, later, see the difference between more complex words.